11 September 2016
Miss Cheryl Chan Wei Ling
MP for Fengshan SMC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what percentage of disabled persons who no longer qualify under the new Class 1 car park label has purchased cars under LTA's Disabled Persons Scheme; and (b) over past five years, how many drivers with Class 2 car park labels have been summoned for using handicap car park lots when not ferrying a person with disabilities.
Ms Denise Phua Lay Peng
MP for Jalan Besar GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the rationale behind the recent policy changes on parking label benefits for the disabled; (b) what are the top three concerns raised by those affected by the changes; and (c) what are the Ministry's responses to the concerns raised.
Mr Alex Yam Ziming
MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) how will the Ministry ensure that those holding Class 1 Car Park Labels for Persons with Physical Disabilities but who are not using "bulky" mobility aids, yet with a genuine need for the use of accessible car park lots, will not be disadvantaged by the revisions to the scheme which will take effect in November 2017; (b) how does the Ministry intend to reduce abuses of the scheme; and (c) whether the Ministry will undertake a comprehensive review of the availability and provision of accessible car park lots with the Ministry of National Development.
Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development whether the Ministry will review the eligibility criteria to grant car park labels for persons with disabilities so as to include not just wheelchair-bound drivers but also other drivers who need some form of physical support such as walking aids.
1. Mr Speaker sir, may I have your permission to take Questions 1373, 1376, 1377 and 1380 together?
2. The Car Park Label Scheme (CPLS) was introduced in 1980 to assist drivers with physical disabilities in boarding and alighting from their vehicles. The CPLS was extended in 1996 to include caregivers who drive passengers with physical disabilities. Drivers with the CPLS label can park in dedicated car park lots that are marked in blue with the accessible symbol of a person in wheelchair.
3. There are two types of labels:
(i) The Class 1 label is for drivers with physical disabilities; and
(ii) The Class 2 label is for passengers with physical disabilities.
The Class 1 label allows drivers with disability to park in accessible parking lots for as long as they need, with no time limit. The Class 2 label allows the caregiver-drivers to park in a designated lot for up to an hour, to assist their passenger with disability to board or alight. Thereafter, the vehicle must be shifted to a standard parking lot to free up the accessible lot to other eligible users.
4. Demand for accessible lots has been rising, and this increase will further accelerate with our ageing population. The number of new label holders has increased by almost 40 per cent from 2012 to 2016, from 1,273 to 1,758.
5. To meet the needs of people with disability, Government agencies have been working on a range of measures. Let me highlight a few:
(i) First, we endeavour to provide adequate accessible parking lots.
- The provision of such lots is mandated under the 2013 Code on Accessibility. The code also requires the provision of accessible and sheltered drop-off points, with direct access to every block at residential estates.
- There are currently about 6,000 accessible lots across public car parks managed by HDB, URA and NParks.
- Beyond what is provided for under the Code, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) have been putting in more accessible lots in areas where there is high demand, wherever this is feasible.
- The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is currently reviewing the Code, as part of its ongoing review on accessibility. This includes studying the availability and provision of accessible lots.
- Given our physical constraints, however, there will be a limit to how many more accessible lots we can have.
(ii) Second, agencies have moved to curb abuse and the indiscriminate use of accessible lots.
- This begins with education. The National Council of Social Service conducts ongoing public education and outreach, to increase awareness about the appropriate use of accessible lots.
- Beyond education, stiffer penalties have been put in place since Dec 2015, to deter people who park indiscriminately in parking lots meant for people with disability.
- The composition fine for first-time offenders was increased from $50 to $200, and the penalty for repeat offenders was increased to up to $400.
- Ms Cheryl Chan asked about the number of persons who have been penalised for indiscriminate use of the lots.
- Last year, enforcement agencies issued 2,200 summonses for misuse of accessible lots in public car parks.
- We do not have a breakdown on the number of summons issued to Class 2 label holders, and the number issued to drivers without labels parking in the accessible lots.
- We are working closely with agencies to strengthen enforcement.
(iii) Third, we have put in schemes and programmes to make public and private transport more accessible to persons with disabilities.
- One example is the Public Transport Concession card that was introduced in 2014 to help defray the cost of transport for persons with disabilities.
- Another example is barrier-free access and the provision of lifts and ramps at MRT stations and selected Pedestrian Overhead Bridges.
- As of August this year, the Taxi Subsidy Scheme was enhanced to cover up to 80 per cent of the cost of travel in taxis including private hire cars for work, school and in addition training; up from 50 per cent support previously.
(iv) Fourth, we come to the revisions that we will make to the Car Park Label Scheme (CPLS), from 1 November 2017.
- MSF and MND had consulted existing Class 1 and 2 label holders as well as Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs), such as Handicapped Welfare Association, Disabled Persons Association and SPD as part of the review of the CPLS.
- The objective was to see how we could ensure that persons with disabilities, who require the use of accessible lots for boarding and alighting, can be better assured that these lots will be available when they need them.
- Beyond measures that I had outlined earlier regarding education, enforcement, and making more accessible lots available, there was general agreement that we should reserve accessible lots for persons with disabilities who require the additional space to board and alight from their vehicles and are therefore more in need of such lots.
6. Hence, under the new eligibility criteria, car park labels will be issued to those who are medically certified as having physical disabilities and who require additional space to embark and disembark from their vehicles. These would include people using bulky mobility aids - such as wheelchairs, walking frames, and lower-limb prostheses. In addition, those with medical conditions such as muscular dystrophy, poliomyelitis and cerebral palsy will be considered based on their conditions and needs. I would like to assure Members that MSF and SG Enable will exercise flexibility when applying the new eligibility criteria and look at the physical needs and condition of each applicant, even if they do not fully meet the default eligibility criteria.
7. Ms Cheryl Chan asked about the proportion of persons who will not qualify for the Class 1 labels, and who had bought cars under the Disabled Persons Scheme (DPS). The DPS is a financial scheme that supports persons with disabilities who are unable to use public transport and need to drive to work. Under the DPS, eligible drivers with disabilities are exempted from paying premiums for the certificates of entitlement (COE) and the additional registration fee (ARF) when they purchase a vehicle. There are around 165 persons in the DPS (or 81 per cent) who also hold Class 1 labels. Not all DPS beneficiaries apply for CPLS as they may not require the additional space afforded by these accessible lots, for boarding and alighting from their vehicles. The two schemes therefore serve slightly different needs: Individuals on DPS do not by default also need a CPLS Class 1 label. That said, any CPLS renewal will take into consideration the applicant's current condition and mobility needs.